When the Northwest Ballet Theatre brings classics to the stage, they do so in a big way. Elaborate sets, live music and contributions from a plethora of dancers and community members are par for the course. We caught up with artistic director John Bishop to see what’s happening with the dance company this weekend. Trust us, it’s a lot.
Cascadia Weekly: Have you performed Coppelia—one of the world’s most produced ballets around—before?
John Bishop: This is the second time we are performing Coppelia. We performed it in 2000 and are excited about bringing it back.
CW: How many people are involved with putting this on?
JB: Counting artistic staff, cast, crew, volunteers and contributors, I count about 150 on this weekend’s production. It also requires an incredible amount of time and energy over the course of six months to bring the production to the stage.
CW: What was the motivation for staging it again?
JB: I think it is a good fit for the Northwest Ballet Theatre because it is a ballet that blends well with dancers we have, giving even younger dancers the opportunity to dance quite a bit in the production. And the story and choreography is extremely enjoyable for both dancers and audience.
CW: What’s it about?
JB: A young man sees a beautiful girl reading a book on balcony and blows her a kiss as his fiance watches from behind. The girl turns out be a lifelike doll created by an eccentric inventor. There are lots of crazy and comical twists and beautiful dances throughout the whole ballet.
CW: The Starry Night Orchestra is back for this show. Is it important to have live music for a ballet?
JB: The orchestra really makes such a difference. In the overall ballet design of things, it provides the soul for the production. This is now the second time for Bellingham to have a full-length classical ballet with orchestra. In this way, NBT wants to serve this community by celebrating the marriage of ballet and live music.
CW: You’re also presenting “The Treasures of Aaron Copland” this weekend. How did that come about?
JB: The collaboration first came about when I was asked by another ballet company in Bellevue to work with their dancers on a production this spring. It was a very diverse program, which included “Treasures,” which I choreographed. The three-part medley to Billy the Kid, Rodeo, and The Red Pony was set to Western themes from the American vernacular.
CW: Isn’t it kind of crazy to produce two separate performances in one weekend?
JB: It is a little stressful, but that is why I just love my dancers and my crew. They are always having a lot of fun, so the atmosphere is indescribably wonderful. Everyone realizes that to perform on a high level for the audience you have to being enjoying every minute of what you are doing or the audience won’t enjoy it.
CW: Why should people come to your shows?
JB: People always enjoy NBT performances. They can see the work that goes into every aspect of each production and the inspiration they feel from our dancers.
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